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How NGOs can tackle post COVID-19 challenges

Responses to major fundraising dilemmas

Though 2020 will undoubtedly be tough, there are a number of strategies that NGOs can apply to help reduce the negative impact to their organization.
Though 2020 will undoubtedly be tough, there are a number of strategies that NGOs can apply to help reduce the negative impact to their organization.

As quarantine closures are slowly lifted across the country, life is beginning to return to normal for many industries. The same cannot be said for NGOs, who are being hit particularly hard by the economic effects of the pandemic. As job losses, slowed sales and other financial challenges continue, it is proving to be difficult to raise or even maintain donations. This is particularly jarring since 2019 had one of the highest levels of charitable giving ever recorded. Though 2020 will undoubtedly be tough, there are a number of strategies that NGOs can apply to help reduce the negative impact to their organization.

Funding: The economic downturn has affected incoming revenue for many not-for-profits and there appears to be no easy solution. One report reveals that 1 in 5 donors have stopped giving altogether and are not prepared to resume any funding activities until the economy fully recovers. This scenario will likely be familiar to organizations in operation during the 2008 financial crisis, where giving sharply declined during the recession.  

That is not to say that NGOs are powerless. There are numerous low-cost solutions that charities can take to help boost their funding, even during this difficult period. Contact all donors with personalized messaging via email or telephone. Employ a hopeful and understanding tone and keep the public updated on your progress and successful efforts. Read more: How to increase donations for your non-profit >

Work from home: Many office workers have had to vacate their workspaces and complete tasks from their home. This can be a completely new experience for many, and it can be challenging to engage staff remotely. NGOs can keep in regular contact with employees while also trusting workers to independently manage their responsibilities.

Consider scheduling touch points to provide the group with progress updates on key projects and be sure to acknowledge team wins both big and small.

Virtual events: One of the most difficult parts of quarantines for NGOs is that many fundraising efforts take place in-person and during the spring and summer months. Because of this, organizations have taken to creating virtual versions of their popular events such as galas and runs. While it is important to maintain yearly events, especially if they are the cornerstone of a charity’s funding plan, it is not enough to simply move an activity online.

It can be hard to engage a large group of individuals digitally so non-profits should consider adjusting their approach by making the event interactive, easy to join and concise – though donors might be willing to attend a 3-hour dinner, they probably won’t stay in front of their computer for a virtual dinner of the same length.

Connect: As the downturn continues, the demands on a charitable organization are likely to rise. This can place pressure on the NGO to try and increase donations as quickly as possible to meet the needs of their users. Yet, transferring this pressure onto givers can backfire and cause messages to be ignored. Rather, try utilizing low-cost platforms like social media and share personal, uplifting stories, even if they’re small wins. It may help donors see the impact of their contributions, especially if they cannot afford to give a large amount.

This year is proving to be a challenging one for even the most established NGOs. For many, it is reminiscent of the 2008 recession where donations abruptly stopped because of the greater economy outlook. Though levels of donations can take time to return, there are simple and practical steps a charity can take to help secure support during this time. A personalized approach can help organizations connect with their donors and encourage giving. Similarly, NGOs can also communicate effectively with their own staff in order to keep operations running smoothly as offices continue work from home mandates. Major events can be adjusted for an online audience and social media can be utilized to share successes. Though 2020 is proving to be a difficult year, NGOs that manage to persist will come out stronger.